Sinister is a movie that surprised me. I love scary movies, but most of the time it is the pure humor that I find in what people think is scary these days that makes me love them. I figured I would walk into this movie and leave in the same mood I always do. Laughing about how many people jumped in the theater because of what happened on screen. But, this time, I was one of those people. For the first time in over a decade I found a scary movie that downright creeped me out and made me jump. Not just once, more several times.
Sinister opens with old super-8 footage of a family of four being hung from a tree in a rather unique way. The movie is set in a small town in Pennsylvania where Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke; Training Day, Daybreakers) and his family (wife, daughter and son) are moving into a new house. Ellison is a true-crime writer, who hasn’t had a best-selling book in 10 years. His work in the true-crime field did not garner him any favor with the local law enforcement, and the Sheriff in particular would rather see him leave. Shortly, we realize that the house the Oswalt family has moved into the same house that the family in the opening scene lived in, this family is the basis for the book he is writing, and the house is also where they were murdered. This is unbeknownst to the family, except for Ellison himself.
Ellison finds a box in the addicts that is labeled home movies, and it contains several reels of super-8 footage. This footage helps him realize how and why the family from the opening scene were murdered, and their murders spanning from the late 60s to present day. Even more daunting, his discoveries as he moves forward in his investigation place his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity.
I am a firm believer that a film’s score can make or break a movie, despite how good the story is. Sinister did not fail in this department. With haunting melodies littered throughout the movie, and excellent timing by all punctuations, this film will definitely have you tense at exactly the right moments. The one bad thing I can say about this movie, and it was really more of a distraction than a bad thing, was Ethan Hawke’s voice. His voice seemed unnaturally deep compared to my experience with him in his previous roles, a thought which was echoed by many of my fellow critics in the theater. Overall, though, the movie was fantastic. With two interesting cameos in the movie, and a great little role for James Ransone (Inside Man, The Next Three Days), a relative known, and stellar acting from Ethan Hawke, this is a definite must see. Especially for date night, if you’re significant other is into scary movies that is.
4.5 stars out of 5; Highly recommended.